I've been getting a ton of emails asking for my thoughts on Cindy Pon's new covers (I'll respond soon). I saw them last night (well technically today because I saw them around midnight) and many people have already posted about the whitewashing of the covers. I've been silent. Why? Because this feels more personal. I became friends with Justine Larbalestier during the Liar controversy and before I read her book. I still haven't read Magic Under Glass (I promise it will be soon!) but I've been in contact with Jaclyn Dolamore and she's very sweet. However, we only started talking during the MUG cover fail. This time it's different. Cindy Pon has been a huge supporter of Reading in Color from the very beginning. She donated 3 ARCs of Silver Phoenix for me to give away, along with sending me an autographed ARC (I'm pretty sure it was my first one). Yet another book I have that I will treasure always. She's a wonderful person and so nice (I am especially in awe of her kindness in light of my cringe-worthy review of Silver Phoenix, which I really liked but it's not the most eloquent of reviews. Good thing I'm re-reviewing it). Therefore I didn't really want to post about this. However, I'm also drained. But I realized that whitewashing controversies don't hurt the authors (who knows, they might even help) and this is too important not to post about.
Silver Phoenix has a cover that readers could be proud of, especially Asian girls. It's a unique cover that contains a great story. I'm not going to boycott the sequel. I NEED to know what happens next and I don't want anyone else to boycott the book, especially since the publisher did try to have an accurate cover (but then again that could be just as bad since the cover is still being changed). I want Silver Phoenix to find new readers, but I don't want it to alienate its original readers.
so wonderfully created by chris borgman. it will
always hold a special place in my heart.
alas, despite its gorgeousness, Silver Phoenix was passed
on by borders and carried in only limited quantities
in select barnes and noble stores. she simply wasn’t
being picked up by readers as much as we’d have liked.
that is being offered on the young adult bookshelves.
on top of that, my story is also “different”. it’s fantasy, which
is very popular right now. but asian-inspired and reads
more like a historical than the more familiar urban.
for every reader that told me s/he’s been waiting so long
for a book like mine to come along, i’ve had another tell
me, i never thought i’d like asian-inspired fantasy, but
really loved Silver Phoenix. (this always makes me so happy!)
i can’t help but wonder how many readers took one
look at my cover, made assumptions (it’s too *this*
or obviously not enough *that*) and decided it
wasn’t for them. i won’t lie. it breaks my heart a little.
the reason that i love fantasy so much is because despite
the fact that an author can take me to an entirely
different world or time, weave epic stories of good
against evil, astound me with mythical creatures, etc, the
fantastic is always grounded in the human experience. [....]
i’m very well aware of recent discussions
about whitewashing young adult covers as well as
#racefail debates, especially within the speculative
fiction genres. most of you know by now that the
author gets very little say in cover design. i was fortunate
enough to be consulted on many aspects for the original
cover. my debut cover couldn’t have been more fierce
or asian! and i’m so grateful to greenwillow books for spending
the time, money and effort to repackage my books.
with the hopes that it will be carried more widely and
perhaps draw a new audience that my original cover didn’t.
because what matters to me the most has always been
the story. i spent two years writing and revising
Silver Phoenix, went through the gut wrenching heartache of
querying 121 agents so ai ling’s tale could be read. and it’s a
dream come true to be published. i never did it for the money,
fame or glory (i laugh at the thought!). but on a personal level,
i want my stories to be read and on a professional level, read
widely enough that more xia fantasy books in the future is
a possibility. i do have other xia tales in me! =)
i would love to see more diversity in all ways being
published in children’s and young adult genres.
i think progress is happening, even if it may seem painfully slow.
especially when we feel passionate about it. but change doesn’t
happen instantly. i believe success can be achieved through many
small triumphs. and it can start simply with a story…
I'm tired of being tired.